TONLÉ | Behind the Scenes of a Zero Waste Fashion Brand

written by JILL February 3, 2018

Last month Luke and I had the privilege of visiting Phnom Penh, Cambodia where the very inspiring zero waste fashion brand Tonlé is based. We were able to spend a couple days visiting with Rachel, the founder of Tonlé talking with her about how she got started in this business, and then showing us all around the city sharing where she gets her materials, walking us around some remnant shops and then finally touring us around her workshop.

It was a very exciting and inspiring couple days, and we will be putting together a video soon of our time together showcasing some behind the scenes of the whole process from fabric to fashion and a breakdown explanation of how she does what she does.

In the meantime here are some pictures from our time together.

We started on the streets of Phnom Penh hunting for fabric and notions in some remnant shops. These shops are stocked with left over and wasted material and notions brought in from near by factories. You can find everything from offcuts, to rolls of fabric that weren’t quite the right color, left over elastic rolls, thread, even bags of tags from the brands being produced in those factories (many very recognizable brand names as well).

From there we went to her workshop where she took us on a journey of how she designs her collections, creates yarn from some of the material from the offcuts of her own designs and in house dying and screen printing. They do it all there (including shipping right from this spot, so no middle man.).

She talked us through how she is able to get almost fully zero waste. They accomplish this by taking whatever left over pieces of material they have from their production  and mix it together with left over paper from the office to create their own unique paper they print on to design wall art.

All in all it was a very eye opening experience, and we both left Cambodia with a new sense of appreciation for production as well as a stronger respect value for sustainable and intentional business models in the fashion industry.

Make sure to watch out for our video we’ll be posting soon on our time here, and in the mean time check out some of Tonlé‘s pieces from their website below (including  super cute woven box t-shirt made from their offcut scraps).


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